A top Hyderabad jeweller who threw a lavish birthday bash attended by at least 100 people died of the coronavirus on Saturday, sparking panic among the attendees who scrambled to get themselves tested at private labs in the city.
The owner of another top jewellery chain, who, too, attended the party, also died of Covid-19 on Saturday. Officials suspect he contracted the infection from the host, who owns a high-end jewellery store in Himayatnagar area.
At least 100 members of the jewellers association attended the party recently. Two days after the bash, the host developed Covid-19 symptoms and was admitted to a private hospital.
Health officials have now started the process of contact tracing.
This is not the first birthday gone sour in Hyderabad. A police constable who distributed sweets after the birth of a son also tested positive on Saturday—as did the 12 recipients of the sweets. “These are the super-spreaders due to which the number of positive cases has gone up in Hyderabad. In spite of so much publicity, some people just refuse to follow the rules. Birthday parties, family gatherings to celebrate a birth, or youths getting together to welcome a foreign returnee are proving to be hotspots of coronavirus spread. Asymptomatic persons attending huge gatherings like this are spreading the infection,” Director of Public Health G Srinivas Rao said.
Health Minister Etela Rajender said he was frustrated. “There is a drastic rise in coronavirus cases in Hyderabad because people are refusing to follow basic rules. Families are hosting birthday parties, organising engagement functions, or getting together at homes to celebrate a new birth. It takes just one among them who is infected to spread the virus to dozens of others and that is what is happening in Hyderabad,” he said.
Also on Saturday, Telugu film producer Pokuri Rama Rao of Eetharam Productions died of Covid-19. He had tested positive a few days back and was admitted at a private hospital.
‘Private labs not adhering to testing norms’
Amid a spike in cases, the Telangana government Saturday accused private labs of not adhering to testing norms prescribed by ICMR, which, it said, was leading to false positives. “We are going to issue notices to 13 private labs which are not following the norms,” Director of Public Health Rao said.
One of these private laboratories has reported an extremely high sample positivity rate: With 2,672 positive cases against 3,726 total samples tested, the positivity rate is 71.7 per cent—a gross variation and discrepancy in the notified positivity rate of Covid-19 till date.
“The issue needs to be evaluated by an expert committee and until then the data of the said lab has been kept under abeyance. If this lab and other labs are found to be violating ICMR rules then we will take strict action against them,” Rao said.
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